Data of interest

Home  /  Data of interest

Did you know…?

  • The country with more Cameras Obscuras in the world is United Kingdom, followed by Germany.
  • The Camera Obscura of Tavira Tower was the first one installed in Spain in 1994. Besides Cadiz’s one, Tavira Tower has installed a total of nine Cameras Obscuras. In Spain: Jerez de la Frontera, Ecija, Sevilla, Tudela, Santander, Jaen and Bejar. Abroad: Lisbon and La Havana.
  • The oldest Camera Obscura on the European continent is located in Eger (Hungary). It was installed in 1776 following the plans of the Hungarian astronomer Maximilian Hell. Further examples of old Cameras Obscuras are the ones in Clifton (Bristol) from 1829 and Edinburgh (1835).
  • The Camera Obscura of La Havana was a present of the Deputation of Cádiz for the city of Havana.
  • In the 19th century the camera obscura room was not only viewed as educational and entertaining but was a metaphor (as was photography) for the voyeur. In the humor of the day it was a device to see without being seen, to spy on the unaware. The camera obscura on the Isle of Man was said to overlook the cliff walk favored by courting couples.

Foto curiosidades 2    Foto curiosidades 1

  • Camera Obscura has also been used as a drawing tool. The use of this device for pictorial purposes was inspired by the multifaceted Leonardo Da Vinci. The Camera Obscura was used in a room, the image was projected on an illuminated wall where translucent paper was placed in order to “trace” the drawing. This required high skills, since the objects and scenarios were shown inverted, so it was necessary to be corrected. Nowadays, we can affirm that great Renaissance master painters such as Van Eyck, Vermeer or Caravaggio, used the Camera Obscura to improve the perspective and details of their influential paintings.


  • Later, when photosensitive materials were discovered, the Camera Obscura became a pinhole camera (the one that uses a simple hole as a lens). Thus, the use of the Camera Obscura was a great impulse to devise the way to produce permanent and automatic images. It can be considered as the basis of what we know today as photography.
  • As a result of the Camera Obscura as a drawing tool, a new optical device was developed for the same purpose: The Camara Lucida. However, there are no optical similarities between the two systems: The Camara Lucida is a light and portable device that does not require special lighting conditions. It does not project any image, it performs an optical superimposition of the subject being viewed upon the surface upon which the artist is drawing. The artist sees both scene and drawing surface simultaneously, as in a photographic double exposure. This allows the artist to duplicate key points of the scene on the drawing surface, thus aiding in the accurate rendering of perspective.


  • Before the creation of modern photography and cinema, in addition to the Camera Obscura, there were many other inventions that experimented in the field of movement and vision:

1. Phenakistoscope: It was the first widespread animation device that created a fluid illusion of motion. The Phenakistoscope is regarded as one of the first forms of moving media entertainment that paved the way for the future motion picture and film industry. It usually comes in the form of a spinning cardboard disc attached vertically to a handle. Arrayed radially around the disc’s center are a series of pictures showing sequential phases of the animation. Small rectangular apertures are spaced evenly around the disc. The user would spin the disc and look through the moving slits at the images reflected in a mirror. The scanning of the slits across the reflected images keeps them from simply blurring together, so that the user can see a rapid succession of images that appear to be a single moving picture.

2. Zoetrope: It is one of several pre-film animation devices that produce the illusion of motion by displaying a sequence of drawings or photographs showing progressive phases of that motion. The zoetrope consists of a cylinder with cuts vertically in the sides. On the inner surface of the cylinder is a band with images from a set of sequenced pictures. As the cylinder spins, the user looks through the slits at the pictures across. The scanning of the slits keeps the pictures from simply blurring together, and the user sees a rapid succession of images, producing the illusion of motion.The zoetrope works on the same principle as its predecessor, the phenakistoscope, but is more convenient and allows the animation to be viewed by several people at the same time.


3. Thaumatrope: It is an optical toy that was popular in the 19th century. A disk with a picture on each side is attached to two pieces of string. When the strings are twirled quickly between the fingers the two pictures appear to blend into one due to the persistence of vision. Thaumatropes can provide an illusion of motion with the two sides of the disc each depicting a different phase of the motion.